As construction at the Briston-Myers Squibb construction site on Princeton Pike continues to grind its way toward completion later this year, crews have started road reconfiguration work that will help the area deal with traffic generated by the project when the campus opens for business.
With a total of 2,560 employees expected to be working at the 630,000-square-foot complex, traffic experts have projected an influx of cars on local roadways during the morning and evening peak traffic hours. Although the project will provide a boost in terms of commercial ratable income, those funds are offset somewhat by the project’s impact on the community — mainly in the form of additional traffic generated by the site. To deal with the additional cars, a number of traffic mitigation measures are being implemented, including road widenings, turning lanes, an additional traffic signal and changes in timing to existing traffic signals.
According to a traffic study by Lenox Drive-based Langan Engineering commissioned by BMS, the complex is expected to generate about 1,058 total cars (984 entering and 74 leaving) during the morning rush, and about 819 cars (90 entering and 729 exiting) in the evening.
During planning board hearings, Langan traffic engineer Karl Pehnke testified that during peak traffic hours the project will generate about a 3 percent increase in traffic along Princeton Pike.
The traffic study also provided a breakdown of the traffic and its effects on intersections surrounding the project. The areas of greatest impact will be between the I-95 interchange heading to the site in the morning and away from the complex in the evening.
The number of cars exiting from I-95 south onto Princeton Pike in the morning is projected to increase from 1,073 cars to 1,319, and the number of cars exiting I-95 north onto Princeton Pike is projected to increase from 597 to 1,089. In the evening, the number of cars entering I-95 south is projected to increase from 638 to 1,003. Entering I-95 north, the number would increase from 1,125 to 1,307.
The total number of cars going through the intersection at Lenox Drive South and Princeton Pike will increase in the morning from 2,947 to 3,807, and in the evening from 2,994 to 3,379. Lenox Drive North and Princeton Pike will see an increase from 2,043 to 3,099 during the morning rush, and 2,123 to 3,020 in the evening.
Other intersections along Princeton Pike will see a minor bump in the number of cars, both in the morning and evening.
According to the report, the intersection of Franklin Corner Road and Princeton Pike is projected to see an increase during the morning rush from 2,477 cars to 2,582 cars, and an increase in the evening rush from 2,007 to 2,089 cars.
At the Fackler Road intersection, the number of cars in the morning will increase from 2,058 to 2197, and from 2,224 to 2,347 in the evening.
At Province Line Road and Princeton Pike, the cars in the morning rush will increase in the morning from 2,255 to 2,382 and in the evening from 2,643 to 2,741.
Councilman Christopher Bobbitt, who sat on the planning board during the BMS approval, said that traffic was one of the board’s main concerns when hearing the application.
“That’s why they had the traffic study done and we learned more about them widening the road,” said Bobbitt. “If you drive on Princeton Pike now, you can see that they’re beginning that process of clearing it and putting gravel down.”
“It’s already kind of crowded as it is, but they showed that the amount of traffic they’re going to add, along with their flexible work hours won’t significantly lower the level of service at the intersections, so that made us comfortable,” he said.
The work currently being done on Princeton Pike adjacent to the project is an effort to alleviate any additional traffic congestion that might be caused on the stretch of road when the site is fully operational. Improvements being made to the road include:
Removing the existing entrance to the site at the intersection of Lenox Drive South and converting it to a signalized “T” intersection.
The existing one-way exit from the site onto southbound Princeton Pike with be shifted northward to allow traffic leaving the site more room to maneuver before reaching the I-95 interchange.
A main entrance to the site is being built on across from Lenox Drive North to form a new signalized intersection. In order to accommodate the additional traffic, Princeton Pike will be widened at the intersection and two left-turn lanes will be constructed on Princeton Pike into the entrance from northbound Princeton Pike.
Along the entire frontage of the complex, the northbound and southbound sides of Princeton Pike will be divided by an eight foot wide grass median, and five foot wide shoulders will be constructed in both directions to accommodate bicycles.
Bobbitt said another concern the board has was the impact of the project to Lewisville Road and the existing residents there. According to the traffic study, the Lewisville Road intersection will see an increase in the overall number of cars from 1,984 in the morning to 2,131, and from 2,150 to 2,286 in the evening.
While the through traffic on Princeton Pike will be higher at the intersection, Lewisville Road itself is not projected to see an increase in the number of cars, staying the same at 79 in the morning and 71 in the evening.
Bobbitt said some Lewisville Road residents attended the meetings, and the board worked to address their concerns as far as non-traffic impacts the site would have on their residences.
“We talked a little bit about screening and things like that, and to make sure the parking lot lighting wasn’t going to be this bright beacon outside someone’s bedroom window,” he said.
The new campus will be the company’s second in Lawrence Township, joining its worldwide headquarters at Rt. 206 and Province Line Road, which opened in 1971. The company currently employs more than 2,000 people at the Rt. 206 campus and more than 6,000 in central New Jersey. In 2014, the township planning board approved plans by the pharmaceutical giant to build the 630,000-square-foot office building on the former Union Camp site located on Princeton Pike north near the I-95 interchange. The project is the first half of a planned 1.5-million-square-foot complex approved by the township in 2002.
Currently under construction are four buildings that are connected to each other by a central atrium, surface parking and a loading dock. Company officials have said that the the new facility will allow the company to shut down its offices on Scudders Mill Road in Plainsboro Township and at Nassau Park Boulevard in West Windsor Township and transfer the employees to the new campus. The plans also require the preservation of the historic Brearley Oak tree located directly opposite Lenox Drive south on the property. A segment of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail on the campus will link to a network of walking paths on the property, and nearly half of the 134-acre tract will remain working farmland.
Bobbitt said that BMS’ decision to locate another facility in town says a lot about the town as a location for commercial business.
“It shows that BMS is invested and pleased being in Lawrence Township,” he said. “With a research headquarters on Rt. 206 already, it’s nice for them to say that Lawrence is a good fit for them and they want to strengthen that relationship by constructing a new building here.”
He added that as a corporate neighbor, BMS is a good fit for the township.
“They’ve been a great partner to our nonprofits and community organizations. There’s also a lot of BMS employees who live in town who volunteer at various nonprofits and local organizations. So its a nice partnership that we have. It’s great to have the ratables, but its also great to have somebody who gives back to the community as well.”